The RENEGADE 'Magnificent-7':
2017 NW Indiana High School Football Week-2 Poll

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Lowell can expect the 'Indian' to be unhappy this week when they get to Portage. The Indians lost 47-45 last week and the home opener is this Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LaPORTE (08-18-2017) The week two poll is always a judgment of teams that defeated teams they should have beaten balanced against teams that lost to superior squads. In 2017, that may be tough.

Perennial 6A power Penn gained less than 100 yards in a 12-7 loss at Valparaiso. Indy-area superpower Carmel lost 31-3 to a team in Louisville, Kentucky. Longtime 1A dominator Lafayette Catholic lost 54-0 to Jefferson.

What's going on? Graduation.

Even the very strong schools eventually have a year when they need to rebuild the team. Rebuilding can take three weeks or three years. Lafayette Catholic was undefeated state champs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015. They were 13-0 when they lost the state title game 28-27 last year.

Jefferson is 6A and Lafayette Catholic is a 1A school but 54-0? Let's wait for week two.

There are smiles at Chesterton this week after the Trojans ended an eight-game losing streak with a 35-21 win at Hobart. Lowell graduate Adam Hudak, the former Lake Station coach, won his first game as the new coach of Wheeler, 26-14 over River Forest.

And former LaPorte high linemen Buzz Schoff is 1-0. His first game as a varsity head coach was South Central's 33-6 victory over Lake Station.

Four of the top five teams this week are from the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) and the other team is Lowell. Most DAC teams have about 30 more players on the varsity roster than a school the size of Lowell does.

Could the Devils play seven games against the DAC and excel? To steal from an old country song: Lowell couldn't be better than any team in the DAC every night. But the Devils sure could be better than any one of them any one night.

1. (6A) LaPorte (1-0)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)

LaPORTE: LaPorte's off to a good start with a 41-12 win over New Prairie. The 41 points is not a surprise, but LaPorte wasn't good defensively in 2016 and this score may indicate some change. It's hard to tell. The Slicers carried the ball 73 times for 369 yards. To be blunt. They had the ball all night. It's easy to defense a team when you only give them 27 offensive plays. But this is what LaPorte has done the last few years. QB Nick Lorenz ran 13 times for 114 yards and 3 LaPorte TDs. The Slicers head to Hobart (0-1) next Friday and I like their chances. LaPorte has started the season 2-0 in each of the last three years.


2. (4A) LOWELL (1-0)
2016 (9-5), 2015 (12-1), 2014 (8-5), 2013 (6-4) 2012 (5-5), 2011 (5-5)


LOWELL: Lowell looked a little different in their season-opening 27-13 win over Crown Point. New QB Payton Schreiber threw for two TDs and Lowell scored the other two touchdowns on kickoff returns by Jaeger Gill and Jordan Jusevitch. No rushing TDs in a game that Lowell wins? Hasn't happened in years. The Devils posted a solid win over a 6A school that will have a winning season, so why aren't they No. 1? The Devils didn't run the ball as well as I'd have liked and they had four turnovers. That particular formula won't work this coming Friday at Portage (0-1).


3. (6A) Portage (0-1)
2016 (6-4), 2015 (1-10), 2014 (1-9), 2013 (6-4), 2012 (3-7)


PORTAGE: Portage lost 47-45 at Mishawaka last week even though quarterback Anthony Maceo ran for five touchdowns (4, 12, 12, 13 and 58 yards) and 209 yards on just 17 carries. But Mishawaka's option offense ran for 412 yards and five TDs. And Portage returned nine starters on defense from 2016. So, what happened? My guess is that the Indians' defense, supposedly a strength, got left on the field a little too much on a warm humid night and they wore down and out, giving up 28 second half points and the winning TD with 1:36 to go. I'm not going to pass judgment on them until this week's home opener against Lowell (1-0).


4. (6A) Valparaiso (1-0)
2016 (5-5), 2015 (7-3), 2014 (2-8), 2013 (3-7), 2012 (3-7)


VALPO: Big win for the Vikings 12-7 over defending 6A regional champion Penn. The Viking defense held Penn to an unofficial 87 yards of total offense. As great as it is to beat Penn, which has been the dominant 6A school in this part of the state for many (10) years, this 2017 Penn team was not projected to be state class. I was a little disappointed in Valpo scoring only 12 points. QB Nick Leffew was 14 of 28 for 145 yards. Penn QBs were a combined 5-of-23. I'd like to think this was a marvelous victory for the mighty men in green, but let's wait until they play Mishawaka (1-0) this Friday.


5. (6A) Lake Central (1-0)
2016 (4-6), 2015 (5-5), 2014 (9-2), 2013 (9-3), 2012 (8-3)


ST. JOHN: Lake Central started fast with a 33-14 win over neighborhood rival Munster. Junior QB Zach Bundalo passed for four touchdowns and new halfback Josh Williams ran 17 times for 116 yards.
Lake Central is going to play in a lot of high scoring games this fall because they're probably going to score quickly and leave the defense on the field a lot. Let's see how their act plays out of state when LC travels to New Lenox, Illinois to help Lincoln-Way Central open the Illinois football season.


6. (3A) ANDREAN (1-0)
2016 (9-2), 2015 (6-4), 2014 (8-6), 2013 (1-9), 2012 (1-9)


MERRILLVILLE: 59er halfback Teely Ryhne carried 30 times for 153 yards and three touchdowns, while Andrean's new QB Zack Merrill completed only five passes. But three went for touchdowns in a big 42-13 win over city rival Merrillville. The 59ers didn't roll up big numbers of yards, but it is a small roster, small school beating a big roster, big school. A very good start and it will be an even better one after the Catholic Super Bowl game with Bishop Noll this coming Friday. Andrean has defeated Bishop Noll 21 years in a row.


7. (5A) Michigan City (1-0)
2016 (7-4), 2015 (2-7), 2014 (4-6), 2013 (2-8), 2012 (2-8)


MICHGAN CITY: A fairly good start for the Wolves, a come-from-behind 25-20 win over Griffith. QB Mike McCullough was just okay with 295 yards passing, but three interceptions. His 40-yard TD pass to Zennon Wilhelm gave the home team the lead with 1:23 left in the game. What strikes me is that almost everybody on Michigan City's Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) schedule is better than Griffith and the Panthers should have won this game. We will know more about what Michigan City is going to do this season late Friday night after they open the Illinois football season for Class 8A power Homewood-Flossmoor.


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Revised: August 20, 2017 .